REACHcycles is an all volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating mobility and independence to children with disabilities. REACHcycles was established in 2014, as a chapter of AMBUCS a national organization, founded in 1922. James Howard, REACHcycles president, received an AmTryke from the LRDF chapter in SC to participate in a disabled veterans cycle event. This AmTryke gave him purpose and an opportunity to be with veteran comrades. This valuable step in his recovery led him to start REACHcycles in 2014 in Richmond, Va along with a great team of longtime board members Lisa, Michelle, Sarah and Curt. This also led his mother, Nancy Wellons, to start a chapter, Wheels On The James, which is located in Lynchburg, Va. It operates under REACHcycles and the two organizations combined have donated over 1000 bikes in Virginia.
All of these organizations and so many amazing people are a part of the big family that inspired REACHcycles and makes our mission possible.
"REACHcycles are a God sent organization. This foundation brings a sense of normalcy for children with disabilities. The bikes allow the children to experience what other typical children experience (riding a bike )everyday. It's the small things that people take for granted, who would have thought that they would ever have a chance to ride a bike? Thanks REACHcycles we love you!"
- Parent Testimonial
Our staff and board members are all volunteers that take a personal interest in seeing these children experience the amazing freedom of riding a bike, that we can sometimes take for granted.
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James grew up in Lynchburg, Va a part of a large military family. Three generations that served in WWII through the War on Terror with the 82nd Airborne. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 2002 and commissioned into the Army. He had the privilege of serving in Iraq and completing Ranger, Sapper, Jumpmaster and Special Forces courses. He loved his job as well as those he served with. James medically retired in 2010 after numerous combat and training injuries that left him a quadriplegic in a wheelchair.
He considers his injury as "a blessing by misfortune" which led him to start 2 non-profits. He is the founder and president of REACHcycles and VAU (www.VetsAU.com) that has supported over 5000 children and veterans with disabilities. He also works and volunteers for many other non-profits: SOCOM Care Coalition mentor, Quality of Life Foundation Family- Case Manager, Chris Reeve Foundation- Military Veterans Program MVP Coordinator, GWOT Memorial Foundation-Ambassador and Paralyzed Vets of America-member.
He is the proud father to his son Luke and husband to his amazing wife Amanda.
Michelle, a pediatric physical therapist at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, is the PT Director for REACHcycles. She graduated from Old Dominion University in 2012 with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Michelle began volunteering with REACHcycles in 2014 when it was started and was elected to the Board of Directors in 2015. Volunteering has always been one of Michelle’s passions since she was a child. When she was 13 years old, she began volunteering with a non-profit organization called Danceabilities that offered dance classes as a form of physical therapy to local children with disabilities. That organization was led by a PTA and she introduced Michelle to the career of physical therapy. She immediately fell in love with the idea of working with children and being able to help them. Michelle enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, crafting, and exploring Richmond on the weekends. She enjoys being involved with REACHcycles and loves seeing a child get the opportunity to ride a bike for the first time.
Curt is a Real Estate Broker with Explore Realty Group of Joyner Fine Properties and has 26 years of serving the public in that capacity. Because of circumstances in his own life, Curt has always been interested in helping children with mobility issues and ReachCycles has become an extension of his desire to provide bikes to children. Curt met the people of ReachCycles at a fund raising event in Ashland and knew this is where he could help make an impact. Curt’s goal for ReachCycles is to make more people aware of the awesome things that this organization is doing for children and their families.
Lisa Bebko is a pediatric physical therapist at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. She graduated from the University of St. Augustine in 2000 with a Master’s of Physical Therapy and has had the pleasure of working in the pediatric specialty area of physical therapy since 2007. Lisa has two beautiful daughters and a wonderful husband who support her tremendously as a wife, mother, physical therapist, and volunteer. She enjoys working out, crafting, sewing, and spending time with her family and friends. She believes that bikes provide an opportunity for exercise, enjoyment, and provide a sense of freedom to those who ride. Lisa is eager to provide those opportunities to those who are not able to ride a traditional bike by helping them acquire adaptive cycles that meet their individual needs through REACHcycles.
Sarah is an outpatient physical therapist at Sheltering Arms' PT Works location in Short Pump. She graduated from VCU in 2016 with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy and a post-baccalaureate certificate in Disability Leadership. Sarah began volunteering with REACHcycles in 2015 as a student intern and fell in love with the organization and it's mission. Sarah enjoyed working with REACHcycles and the board members so much during her time in school, and was very excited to accept a board position when offered to her as a licensed physical therapist. Sarah enjoys exercising, hiking, reading, watching Hokie football, and exploring Richmond's local restaurant scene on the weekends. She loves being a part of the REACHcycles organization and helping give children the gift of mobility.